To expand on the use of supplements in a physique transformation, I’d like to focus on one of the most popular performance enhancing supplements of the last 20 years; creatine monohydrate. So why would you use creatine supplements? Lets first look at what it is and what it does:
Creatine monohydrate has always been known as a “bodybuilding supplement” because many users of creatine claim a 6-10 pound gain over a few weeks of creatine use. It is also widely reported to improve muscle strength and help weight lifters improve performance during resistance training. This occurs mainly when taken prior to exercise where creatine tops off CP (creatine phosphate) stores to better regenerate ATP. This enables the muscles to sustain more work at higher intensities with an increase in lactate threshold, i.e., less muscle burn and fatigue. Creatine consumed after exercise replenishes lost stores more quickly, and this enhances recovery ability.
I’ve used many forms of creatine in the past but I only want to focus on how it fits in to your own workout regimen. It is generally recommended that athletes take 20-25 grams per day for five days to load the system, then to maintain with 5 grams per day. The consumption of 5-10 grams per day starting two weeks out from a physique transformation ( or any program peak period) will produce similar results. The latter method is less stressful to the stomach, with less gas and bloat. If you find that 10 grams per day causes stomach distress, reduce the dosage to 7 grams, then 5 grams then finally 3 grams until symptoms are no longer experienced. Many individuals can sustain optimum levels after a load-phase with as little as 2g per day.
A common side effect to creatine intake (particularly a high load period) is cramps. This is most likely due to the increased muscle water content that has diluted electrolyte levels. If cramps occurs, reduce creatine intake slightly, avoid drinking excessive water, and make certain to obtain plenty of electrolytes through the diet (and supplementation, if necessary). Often a reduction in creatine will do the trick.
Creatine does not need to be part of an advanced trainee’s off-season diet regimen since this class of athlete usually trains with less frequency ( but more intensely). Infrequent exercise provides sufficient time to build and replenish muscle creatine stores. Creatine consumption should also terminate after a physique transformation since the effects of increased stamina and muscle water retention are soon lost after 12 weeks, and this reduces any benefits of further creatine usage until the next transformation. Creatine stores also tend to remain high two weeks after discontinued use.
I should point out that the muscular results may not be noticeable for everyone. It has been shown that 20 to 30 percent of creatine users are actually non-responders and will see no benefit. I would caution men from believing that creatine is a magic bullet that will build muscles or make you a better athlete. Creatine supplements do not take the place of a well organized exercise program and diet.
Remember that supplements are just that; a supplement to meet your current needs that cannot be satisfied with conventional means.
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